March 14, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Robotic Pothole Crew Keeps Your Genetic Highways in Good Repair

What a thought – a repair crew of molecular machines roaming the strands of your DNA, fixing errors 24 x 7.  It happens.  New techniques are showing the machines jumping from strand to strand like fleas, stopping at suspicious points, and fixing errors, reported Science Daily.  Dr. Bennett Van Houten (U of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute) had an earthy way of illustrating what goes on.  “How this system works is an important unanswered question in this field,” he said.  “It has to be able to identify very small mistakes in a 3-dimensional morass of gene strands.  It’s akin to spotting potholes on every street all over the country and getting them fixed before the next rush hour.
    A bacterium has about 40 team members on its pothole crew.  That allows its entire genome to be scanned for errors in 20 minutes, the typical doubling time.  The machines were observed jumping and sliding at random, but engaged sometimes in paused motion that “seemed slower and purposeful,” the scientists said, as if they were scrutinizing a pothole (i.e., a structural abnormality or defect) needing repair.  These smart machines can apparently also interact with other damage control teams if they cannot fix the problem on the spot.

Strange story.  None of the scientists said anything about evolution.  Weren’t they supposed to tell us how these smart robots evolved?  We were told nothing made sense in biology except in the light of evolution.  Are they going to leave us here in the dark?  Someone, please shed light on evolution before the I.D. bogeymen get here!

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